Tide Mills is a derelict and abandoned village on the coast in East Sussex, one mile east of Newhaven and just over two miles west of Seaford, close to the village of Bishopstone. It can be reached by walking along the footpath from Seaford, passing Newhaven and Seaford Sailing Club. Access can also be gained from a car park off the A259 road at Mill Drove.
Tide Mills was constructed in the 18th century, when a tide mill was built, which is a watermill powered by the rise and fall of the sea tides. The village was abandoned in 1939, after being condemned as unfit for habitation. There was no running water, sewage facilities or electricity.
At one time, 1,500 sacks of flour were produced each week. In the 19th century, over sixty men worked at the mill and lived in cottages built by the landowner, William Catt. He also built the school.
A railway line was extended from Newhaven to Seaford and had a siding between the cottages, known as Tide Mills Halt. It was renamed Bishopstone Beach Halt in 1939. The railway allowed flour to be transported to Newhaven, where it could be taken by sea to London. The mill stopped working around 1900 and was demolished in 1901, following storm damage.
It is difficult to identify the remains of any particular dwelling, apart from the Stationmaster’s Cottage. In the 1920s, Captain David Dale built horse racing stables. Again, in the 1920s, Chailey Marine Hospital was founded close to Tide Mills Beach. The hospital was opened for boys who had become paralysed or disabled. It was thought that the sea air and bathing would help to heal them. The conditions were very basic. The only heating was in the Nurses’ Home in a separate building. The remains of both buildings can be seen.
During the First World War in 1917, The Royal Naval Air Station was built. This Seaplane Station carried out U-boat patrols and escorted convoys in the English Channel. It had a concrete ramp running down into the sea. The floors of the hangars, complete with door tracks, still remain. The site was not cleared until 1941. During the Second World War, the Tide Mills area accommodated large numbers of Canadian troops.